Staedtler Versus Prismacolor Graphite Pencils
Side by Side Comparison
Recently, someone asked me how I rate Staedtler versus Prismacolor graphite pencils, the two brands that I prefer. And why do I use both instead of just one or the other. Aren’t all pencils the same?
To begin with, I’ll start off by answering the last question first. Are all pencils the same? The answer is no, not at all. And in comparing the two that I prefer, Staedtler versus Prismacolor, there is quite a difference.
Since the beginning of my serious portrait making, back in my college days, I’ve been using the Prismacolor Premier Turquoise Graphite pencils. Why? Because that’s what our professor wanted us to use. Simple as that. I had no complaints. I liked the pencils and have stuck with them for nearly thirty years. They’re high-quality, artist-grade pencils (as opposed to the cheaper student-grade variety) that are available in twenty distinct degrees of lead hardness (6H-8B). They’re ideal for shading, as well as detailed line work and can be used both for fine art and technical drawings.
The one area where I had an issue with the Prismacolor pencils was in cases where I needed a solid black. Using the 8B, the softest of their graphite pencils, I’d end up with a black that had an almost metallic sheen to it, which would end up making the black not so black. I never stressed about it too much since I knew that once I sprayed it with a fixative, the sheen would be matted and some of the richness of the black would come back.
Fast forward two decades to the summer of 2016. I decided to try out the Staedtler Mars Lumograph Premium Quality pencils, which I knew some of my friends preferred. So I ordered a set on Amazon and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. They are also premium quality artist-grade pencils with break-resistant lead. They too, come in twenty degrees of lead hardness. And like the Prismacolor pencils, they’re ideal for shading, detailed line work, and can be used for fine art or technical drawings.
The difference lies in how the graphite covers my paper. It seems to me that the graphite is much softer in the sense that it’s much easier to get to a true, more velvety black than the Prismacolor pencils. Side by side, you can see how each degree compares to each other. The bonus for me was that the 8B is more of a deep black without the metallic sheen.
Does that mean I’ve replaced my long-time companion, the Prismacolor Turquoise in favor of the Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils? The answer is, no. I use them both, but not interchangeably. In all honesty, the quality of the graphite is totally different to me. So, I use them both to complement each other. Can I get the job done with one or the other? Sure. I did for years. I use them both for convenience and ease of use. The eye of the beholder may not pick up on the subtle differences that I do, or any other artist for that matter, but the difference is there. Try them out and see for yourself. Both brands come individually and in sets and can be found in any art store, or even on Amazon.